Scratching the Celluloid Surface of Sam Harlow’s Hollywood Lament Immortality | Video Games | Pretty Reel

It’s striking to see this in such close proximity to Andrew Dominik’s “Blonde,” another Hollywood predatory story centered on a fictionalized, brutalized Marilyn Monroe. For my money, “Immortality” has a lot more to say about the voyeuristic nature of the camera and the male eyes peering through it. We watch Marissa in various states of vulnerability and undress (sex and nudity are major components of the first two films, in particular), sometimes encouraged by Marissa but inevitably colored by the power dynamics of the men she works with. In doing so, we understand the carnivorous way Fischer and Durick look at Marissa and see her reflected in ourselves. As our eyes scan frames of her frame by frame, or as you click on an exposed breast to match it to another scene of the same thing, it’s hard not to feel complicit in that very consumption.

And Harlow, much like Dominik in “Blonde,” is hardly immune to criticism on this front. Whether Marilyn or Marissa, the two characters revel in the transgressive nudity of their subjects under the pretext of criticizing the male gaze which is so hungry for it.

Warning: major spoilers for a fundamental layer of ImmortalityThe gameplay follows.

But what makes Immortality “more elusive (and therefore more engrossing) is that aforementioned third layer, which lies beyond the thin veneer of celluloid that separates reality from the movies. It’s subtle at first, this low, bass noise that plays on specific sequences of sequences. Stop the tape and roll it slowly, and something like a jump scare occurs; where Marissa stood, you see a mysterious woman (a haunting and revealing Charlotta Mohlin) in her place, weaving through the frame like a snake. Her lyrics are cryptic and save but speak volumes, especially as you apply the same trick to more and more music videos, uncovering the darker, angstier side of Marissa’s artist life.

Is she something supernatural, the living incarnation of the Greek muses? Is it the metaphorical expression of Marissa’s sublimated frustrations about the artistic process and her place in it? Fortunately, this element of the game leaves room for both interpretations.

Through Mohlin’s staggering performance, steeped in centuries of pain and hurt, come the finest moments of “Immortality.” It culminates (for me, at least, you can watch the proceedings in any order you want) in a lip-sync to Lou Reed’s “Candy Says” – a mournful love song about transgender woman Candy Darling, the one of Andy Warhol’s songs. “superstars” (a figure who herself floats on the periphery of Marissa’s New York artist world).

Scratching the Celluloid Surface of Sam Harlow’s Hollywood Lament Immortality | Video Games | Pretty Reel